Let’s face it. Since we are all working for the same brand, we are in this together. And while the CFO may be responsible for keeping financial score, it is the CHRO who is indirectly responsible for the single largest budget item: payroll and benefits. Other divisions have their objectives – producing, marketing or selling products and services – but the CFO and CHRO should be working in tandem to make the most of a given set of human capital resources, and in the end achieving the targets set by the board and CEO.
So what can HR do to become this strategic partner? Recognize that a CFO is always looking for improvement. Every day starts with the knowledge that there is organizational inefficiency and the art is finding the biggest area to tackle in the shortest period of time. HR is flooded with employee compensation signals, both from individual employees, market vendors, competitor’s moves, and so on. How can those signals be integrated into a single efficient package? Questions such as: what costs are coming down the road and what are the alternatives? What programs must we retain and which ones are open for discussion? How can we meet the needs of our employees while meeting the needs of our owners? Where is the right inflection point between paying more people less, or fewer people more?
The strategic CFO knows every market is dynamic and that the right mixture of opportunity, talent, and execution will meet the needs of the organization. The CFO expects HR to recognize that the right answer last year may not be the right answer today or next year and offer compensation design alternatives that reflect the fluid nature of business. HR has a tremendous role to play as partner to the CFO as they work towards the common goal of planning and executing a winning staffing strategy. Game on.